Winding through the ridiculously adorable streets of Yorkville, my photo correspondent and I find ourselves to be very, very lost. And with visions of whisky samples dancing in our heads, our search for the Hazelton turned near-savage. Stomp, stomp, stomp, WHERE’S MY SCOTCH? stomp, stomp, stomp, WHO BUILDS A HOTEL WITHOUT A SIGN? stomp, stomp, stomp, Oh we’ve passed it four times already… stomp, stomp, stomp, arrive.

At long last surrounded by low music, sparkling glasses and bottles, bottles, bottles, we tuck into a tasting session for the ages. The name of the game, aside from whisky, was BALVENIE, where the craft of single malt Scotch whisky hasn’t changed in over a century. Think mist rising off the craggy moors of olde Scotlande, men tossing barley into the air with pitchforks and dancing on tables, cats flying everywhere. Nope, that’s the Holy Grail.

Really though, the folks at Balvenie know to how to rock your glass. You’re not going to want to dilly-dally with soda if you’re sipping these blends. The distillery grows its own barley, malts in its own traditional floor maltings and employs a team of people called “coopers” who mind the casks (whisky barrels).

Beyond the banana notes and pure heaven that tasted like a liquid campfire, beyond the whisky-infused truffles and a blend of whiskies from the 60s, 70s and 80s (look out!!) we are treated to Sam Simmons, Dr. Whisky himself, whose near-constant whisky banter transforms us from gawking twenty-somethings plus camera into bona-fide single malt samplin’ so-and-sos.

And so, I give you, an ILLUSTRATED HOW TO GUIDE for sampling whisky, à la Sam Simmons.

~Whisky guide and piece by Annie Webber.